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Even better than nothing: Queensland tally shrinks by one, but danger ahead

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Queensland has unexpectedly improved its COVID-19 position by shifting one case interstate at a time when there were no new infections. But there are fears the long weekend could bring a second wave.

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Health Minister Steven Miles has repeatedly said that nothing is better than a “zero day,” with no new coronavirus infections, however Queensland has inadvertently gone one better.

A review of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 has found that one recorded Queensland case involved someone who normally resided interstate, believed to be a man from Western Australia who has now been added to that state’s tally.

Under the clinical data equivalent of State of Origin eligibility requirements, COVID-19 cases are now being recorded by the patient’s home state and region, to be consistent nation-wide.

That has allowed Wednesday’s total number of Queensland cases of 1034 to be revised down to 1033 today. More patients also recovered in that time, with the number of Queenslanders free of the disease rising from 928 to 943.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted the latest numbers, which Miles is due to discuss this afternoon while inspecting hospital preparedness on the Sunshine Coast.

It comes ahead of a National Cabinet meeting tomorrow, where the rugby league State of Origin will be discussed, as part of plans to resume the regular season, along with school policies and when to lift other bans and ease restrictions.

Palaszczuk has already announced the easing of state restrictions from 11:59pm Friday but has urged Queenslanders to continue to practice social distancing over this long weekend. There are concerns that any second wave of infections must still be manageable, and not overwhelm the bolstered health system or upgraded contact tracing arrangements.

With the states already testing more widely, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has expressed confidence that Australia will be ready for any new outbreaks.

“If a second wave does occur, we’ll deal with it quickly and we’ll respond to it,” he said.

Infection rates have grown overseas after strict lockdown measures were lifted, with Germany the latest example after easing rules last week.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison maintains Australia will be able to lift restrictions in a safe way.

“Of course, there will be outbreaks. That is what living with the virus will be like,” he said.

“That is why the protections that we put in place for a COVID-safe Australia are so important.”

Testing, contract tracing and quick, effective responses to outbreaks are considered key benchmarks in edging back towards normal life.

There are 10 million new testing kits set to flood into Australia, giving authorities scope to screen people in a targeted but more widespread way.

The COVIDSafe tracing app has been downloaded by almost three million Australians, putting it on course to achieve an effective take-up rate.

Health authorities are also confident there is capacity within intensive care units to treat outbreaks of the disease.

Kelly said it was likely rules would be eased in the lead-up to May 11, a key date for reviewing bigger restrictions.

“There will be many announcements about changes in the way we’ll be living our lives and hopefully getting back to some sort of new normality in living in a COVID-19-safe society,” he said.

– with AAP

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